By Jeremy Sollars
A development application for the proposed
MacIntyre Wind Farm crossing the Goondiwindi and Southern Downs Regional Council
areas was lodged with the Queensland Government late last week by Spanish-owned
global renewable energy developer Acciona.
But residents and the councils will not have
a formal opportunity to scrutinise the application in detail with there being no legislative
requirement for it to be publicly advertised,
and it will not be referred to the councils for
Wind farm proposals in Queensland are
solely assessed by the State Government
through its power State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA), an arm of the Department of
State Development and Queensland Treasury.
SARA also reports to the office of the
Queensland Coordinator-General, a likewie
SARA is only required to publicly notify its
final decision on wind farms.
Residents can however complete a brief
online survey to voice their views directly to
Acciona, which has already appointed a senior project management team and a range of
consultants despite not having any formal approval for the wind farm.
The company plans to develop the MacIntyre Wind Farm across 40,000 of private
land in the Cement Mills and Pikedale districts
it has leased from local landholders, with 120
Most of the wind farm would be located in
the Goondiwindi council area with portions
extending into the SDRC area at Pikedale and
Goldfields, with the Durikai State Forest near
Karara forming a ‘buffer zone’.
The Queensland Government’s own renewable energy company – CleanCo – will develop
18 turbines of its own just south of Durikai
State Forest, understood to be included in the
120 overall figure.
Former Deputy Premier and Treasurer – and
as of last weekend former MP for South Brisbane – Jackie Trad announced on March 26 this
year that a CleanCo component involving 18
wind turbines would form part of the Acciona
A new transmission line to take electricity
from the wind farm to the Millmerran power
station would run through the Karara and Leyburn districts.
Acciona said in early 2020 a series of public
consultation meetings would be held with affected communities but attributed a cessation
of consultation to COVID-19. As of this week
no public meetings had been announced by
For their part both Southern Downs Mayor
Vic Pennisi and Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence
Springborg have said they expect Acciona to
consult with their councils about any aspects
of the wind farm which could affect council
interests, including roadworks and traffic disruption during the construction phase. Neither has taken an active stance against the Acciona proposal.
The wind turbines proposed would have
a maximum wing-tip height of 285 metres
and heavy vehicle movements to enable their
transport to the site are likely to cause significant highway traffic disruption in the local area over a period of several months. Most
wind turbine components are manufactured
The re-elected Palaszczuk ALP government
has a target of achieving 50 per cent of all of
Queensland’s energy needs from renewables
by 2030, including solar and wind farms.
Former State Minister for Energy Dr Anthony Lynham – who quit politics before the 2020
Queensland election – said earlier this year the
MacIntyre Wind Farm would mean “jobs and
business opportunities across the Southern
Downs and Darling Downs”.
“As one of the largest onshore wind farms
in the southern hemisphere, the MacIntyre
Precinct will have far reaching and long lasting
social and economic benefits locally, and for
the whole state,” Dr Lynham said.
“The local spend on the Downs is forecast
to be more than $500 million during construction.
“That’s jobs and business flowing into the
south west from later this year when early
Dr Lynham said the 1026 MW wind farm
project was expected to be progressively connected to the statewide energy grid from 2022,
with 64 km of new powerlines connecting the
wind farm to Queensland’s electricity network
“State-owned Powerlink has already commenced working on the connection of the
project to the grid, which on its own will support up to 240 jobs,” Dr Lynham said.
Acciona Australia Energy Managing Director Brett Wickham has said Acciona is “excited
to be working with the (State Government’s)
CleanCo to deliver one of the largest onshore
wind farms in the southern hemisphere”.
“In addition to generating up to 400 jobs
over its lifetime, a Community Enhancement
Program will be established to deliver added
value to the local community,” Mr Wickham
said earlier in 2020.
“The project is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2021, with a gradual start-up
in phases to ensure connection to the grid with
full technical guarantees for the state’s electricity system.
“The entire MacIntyre complex will be operational in 2024.”
Acciona has called on local businesses and residents located near the MacIntyre Wind Farm
Precinct to have their say on the project by taking part in what a spokesman said is “a short,
“The survey (https://www.surveymonkey.
com/r/MacIntyre) forms part of the work that
independent organisation, EMM Consulting,
is conducting for a Social Impact Analysis (SIA)
of the project,” the spokesman said this week.
“Acciona is committed to understanding
what the local community thinks of the project.
“We know a project like MacIntyre Windfarm must deliver long-term benefits to local
businesses and residents.
“To plan for this properly we need to understand what is important to people in the area
so we can try to maximise the project benefits
while minimising any impacts.
“We have a number of things in place to
ensure we capture these local views, including
the Social Impact Analysis, the Community
Engagement Committee, and regular supplier
and community briefings.”
“The MacIntyre SIA aims to:
· describe the existing social conditions and
demographic profile of the local communities
·identify and assess the extent and nature of
potential social risks
· evaluate the significance of the social impacts and benefits arising from the project
· provide mitigation recommendations to
reduce the negative social impacts and enhancement measures for significant positive
· develop a monitoring and management
“As well as the online survey, EMM Consulting is conducting a range of in-depth interviews and workshops with local stakeholders.”
No further details of the interviews and
workshops had been released by time of printing of the Free Times this week.
Developer of the MacIntyre Wind Farm Acciona last month announced a group of local
stakeholders who will serve on its first Community Engagement Committee (CEC).
Acciona’s Brett Wickham thanked those
who nominated for the CEC and said the committee members represented an excellent
cross-section of the communities interested in
“Community committees are designed to
foster genuine discussion and collaboration
and are always an invaluable source of advice
on ways a project should be progressed within
an existing local community,” he said.
“We were impressed with the calibre of
nominations for our first MacIntyre Wind
Farm CEC and look forward to working with
committee members to achieve really strong
local outcomes from the project.
“The local stakeholders appointed to
the MacIntyre Wind Farm CEC, who are
representative of the three local council
areas with interest in the project, are –
· David Bartlett (Gore), Traprock Group
· Trudie Bartlett (Harlaxton), Regional Development Australia
· Michelle Conkas (Severnlea), Granite Belt
Sustainable Action Network
· Lloyd Hilton (Karara), local community volunteer
· Susie Kelly (Goondiwindi), Goondiwindi
· Graham Parker (Stanthorpe), Stanthorpe
and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce
· Joel Richters (Goondiwindi), Care Goondiwindi
· Jo Sheppard (Toowoomba), University
Joel Richters was the nominated ALP candidate for the state seat of Southern Downs in
the 2020 Queensland election.
Mr Wickham said the CEC term of membership for Community Representatives is two
“The CEC will hold its first meeting in midOctober 2020 at which the CEC’s independent
chairperson will be announced,” he said.
“One of the first items of business for the
CEC will be to provide input into MacIntyre
Precinct Social Impact Assessment (SIA).
“The SIA, which kicked off in the middle
of September, is being conducted by leading
Australian planning and environmental consultancy firm EMM.
“The purpose of the SIA is to assist ACCIONA to understand the social impacts associated with the project and to provide the foundation for decisions regarding the development
and review of community programs and initiatives to be delivered through the Projects’
Community Enhancement Program.
“The SIA, which incorporates a mix of
face-to-face consultation, field studies and
in- depth research, will run over the coming
months, with a final report to be presented in